How I got paid to attend College

I have had some folks ask about how I got out of college in relatively good financial shape considering the fact that the average student loan debt is $29,800. It is a blessing to live without debt and without constant lingering thoughts of paying a debt collector interest monthly. For those in debt, I have outlined a blog post with steps to take to get rid of debt as I once had a considerable amount of mortgage which I paid off in 1.5 years. Before taking on a mortgage, I graduated college with zero debt (and a decent net worth) but what made it spectacular is I had zero dollars given to me by my parents for tuition or expenses throughout my college life in the United States. I did not feel entitled (and I still do not) nor do I feel like my parents should have paid for my college tuition. I appreciate my parents dearly and I am grateful for them being supportive through out my lifetime.
With that out of the way, this particular post is not for the faint of heart and the steps taken to get paid all through college took long hours of applying to thousands of scholarships and being able to maintain a perfect grade point average all through college while participating in day-to-day activities including working two part-time college jobs and playing on a college soccer team. Now, some might assume that I had an athletic scholarship – this is false. In fact, I actually had to contribute financially (along with the other team members) so the team could participate in tournaments outside the state. Unfortunately I have never been awarded an athletic scholarship during my lifetime thought it would have been really nice to have and I definitely recommend those with an opportunity to get an athletic scholarship to take advantage of it as it takes effort and discipline to be an athlete and perform on the toughest stage when needed.
Okay, back to the steps I took to get paid to attend college. Before applying to colleges, I had done a lot of research on the right school to attend which would provide the bang for my buck. The name and pedigree of a school is important but it has to be balanced with the expectations on what will be achieved after graduating from that college. I narrowed the colleges I was interested in to just three schools and only applied to those three. I saw no point paying applications fees for a dozen schools when at the end of the day I could only attend one. Now, there is always a chance that I would have not been accepted to all three but it was a calculated risk and based on my grades from high school and standardize test scores, I was willing to take that bet. I was admitted to all three schools. One was in-state and two were out-of-state. Of those two that were out-of-state, one was a private institution. I got scholarships to go to all three given by each institution but the private institution was going to cover just a portion of the fees. I ended up selecting an out-of-state college that awarded me a scholarship to fully cover my tuition. I did not rest there, I signed up for numerous scholarship resource websites and received emails daily to my inbox which I read and applied to every single one of them. There were so many websites and links that I had to stay up very late at night applying to each of them.
I kept my resume, certificates of previous education, statement of purpose, personal statement, and recommendation letters written by professors up-to-date and customized each of those document for each application I applied to. It would have been much easier to use the same documents but that would have been a waster of time and resources as I believed in making sure the document match correctly to each scholarship application if I was going to apply. I was able to land some major public scholarships in addition to the scholarship provided by the college. Each of those scholarships required that I maintain a particular grade point average to be considered for an extension during the next academic year. I was not going to let the scholarships slip away so I studied tirelessly to get good grades and extend the scholarship. While those scholarships were extending to the next years, I was still applying to more scholarships that I qualified for. The rate of the number of scholarships I was awarded to the scholarships I applied to was actually low even with a perfect grade point average and some internships under my belt but I was not going to let that get me down. In fact it served as motivation to keep applying to more because at the end of the day, it was all about the absolute number.
During that time, I worked part-time jobs in college to cover daily meals and regular college expenses. The amount of scholarships I had finally got to a point where it was able to cover those and my part-time jobs could count towards savings or be used to generate passive income. Looking back at how it was all possible, the major factors I believe made it possible are dedication and not letting the outcome of one application dictate the drive needed to apply to the other, being able to reach out to professors for recommendation letters, and making sure you are more than qualified for each application. Hopefully, this post served an inspiration to not give up and keep at it. Every little thing might not seem like it might be worth it in the near term but in the grand picture of things, when they are all combined – it can be well worth it!


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